Thursday, April 25, 2013

Deportation of the Elderly in Germany

News headlines about the poor treatment of elderly residents in nursing homes are common place and news about the ageing population and rising costs of care are a daily occurrence. With undercover operations revealing hideous incidences of cruelty, starvation and violence towards elderly people in residential and nursing homes, how to care for an ageing loved one is becoming a difficult dilemma.

An artitst's musings
In the past, caring for the elderly was not a problem. It was accepted that care within the family unit would take place. Women generally, were at home taking care of the family and therefore were available to take care of sick and ailing relatives when the time came. Since the Second World War there has been a shift towards children and parents maintaining independent households and with the working week getting harder, longer and more stressful, caring for an elderly relative at home is just not an option. In 2010 only 10% of people aged 65 and over lived with their families and 12% of people in England aged 16 and over were caring for a sick, disabled or elderly relative.

In some countries the culture to look after the elderly has remained the same. It is seen as an honour, duty and a priority rather than a burden and therefore there is no issue or difficult decision to be made. In the UK, giving up a career that you’ve fought hard to achieve or for those that had children later in life, trying to look after a young family and ailing parents would be too much. Stress levels could increase as resentment towards this duty of care that you felt obliged to do but one you never bargained for becomes a burden. The relationship breakdown could cause increased stress and illness for both the carer and the individual being cared for.

Perhaps Germany has got it right. With an ageing population and rising care costs, Germany’s elderly are moving to care homes in Eastern Europe. One of the reasons it works is that the concept of ageing is very different in the East, society is family centric and the elderly tend to stay in the very heart of the family. In Eastern Europe, working with the elderly is a highly respected profession and vocation. Providing the individual is in agreement, it makes sense. A far cry from the newspaper headlines talking about the ‘deportation’ of the elderly from Germany. Perhaps in a society, like the UK, where the expense is high and the level of care questionable, the opportunity to get high quality, reasonably priced care elsewhere is the solution. Certainly to be cared for by a person that is in a respected profession and who really loves their vocation can only bode well for the individual being cared for as well as their families.

Article Source:  LilacJames image © Sarah Klockars-Clauser for CC:PublicDomain